Reacting to this week's announcement that a Sacramento lobbyist is paying a six-figure fine for making illegal campaign contributions by hosting lavish political fundraisers at his home, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia introduced a bill Wednesday to ban the practice.
Assembly Bill 1673 would prohibit lobbyists from hosting fundraising parties at their homes and offices. Under current law, lobbyists may host fundraisers that cost up to $500 -- even though they are prohibited from making monetary campaign contributions of any amount to candidates for offices they are registered to lobby.
"It really makes no sense that a lobbyist can't buy lunch for a legislator for over $10, but can provide elaborate, exclusive dinner parties simply by stating that it is under the $500 limit," Garcia, a Bell Gardens Democrat, said in a prepared statement.
"As we've seen, these in-home lobbyist events fly under the legal radar and I think that they should be banned."
The Fair Political Practices Commission announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with lobbyist Kevin Sloat -- and his firm Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates -- to pay a record-setting fine of $133,500 for hosting numerous political fundraisers that exceeded the limits placed on lobbyists. Sloat acknowledged providing liquor, cigars and other hospitality to 37 public officials and candidates, who all received warning letters from the FPPC for accepting Sloat's non-monetary contributions.
Garcia's bill is part of a package of legislation she is promoting as the "Political Conduct, Ethics and Public Trust Acts of 2014."
Other elements include measures to limit how officials can spend their campaign funds; expand the information governments provide about employee salaries; restrict some water board members from making decisions that affect their political donors; and change the way vote-by-mail applications are processed.
PHOTO: Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia in the Assembly chambers in March 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua